How to Zest a Lime?

by iupilon

Are you wondering how to zest and quarter lime properly? Curious about lime zest uses? Or lime zest substitute? Or maybe you are just curious about how much zest in one lime is? Today’s blog is all about this versatile ingredient, and we are sure you are going to learn a thing or two about making dishes peppy with lime zest!

Lime Zest Tips and Guidelines

Lime zest is as old as many world cuisines because it has always added the right amount of depth to various types of dishes. From casseroles to fried fish, lime zest added that necessary punch of acidity that makes people go wow. Technically lime zest is the outer layer of lime skin (excluding the bitter white layer). Zesting a lime can be carried out with a variety of tools, which includes (but is not limited to) micro-plane zester and regular graters.

If you are using a micro-plane zester (or any other tool for that matter), always try to work with limes that have undamaged skin. The colored part of the skin is what we are after because the underside will almost always be bitter (or at least, less flavorful). The deep green outer layer is where all the subtle flavors are.

Micro-plane Zester and Grater

You can use a micro-plane zester when you need decorative curls and strips after zesting. The fine strips are perfect for cocktails and other preparations. Hold the lime firmly in one hand while zesting it with the micro-plane zester. Use a fine pulling motion to create fine strips that will naturally curl once freed from the zester. Exert just enough pressure on the lime, so you don’t inadvertently get the bitter white part of the skin.

If the sharp part of the micro-plane zester is not working, it is possible that you are not pressing hard enough. Sufficient pressure is necessary, so press just a little bit harder. Continue zesting until you have all the zest you need. If you need more, grab another lime and continue zesting. Again, the white part will not provide the same group of flavors as the real lime zest.

Don’t have a micro-plane zester? We feel your pain. Don’t worry, and you can just as well use a regular grater. To zest a lime properly, you will need a grater with the finest holes that you can find. Of course, the holes on a grater are going to be larger than a micro-plane zester, but they will produce fine zest all the same.

To zest using a grater, simply hold the lime in one hand and attack the skin of the lime at an angle. Graters are often larger, so it may take some time before you can find the right angle to get the most zest in one stroke. Again, you need to be gentle, but not so gentle that you cannot get a sufficient amount of zest with each stroke.

Peeler and Knife

If you feel that your grater’s holes are too big, your next best bet is a regular peeler. It is going to be a slightly clumsy effort, but it will work if you do it correctly. The trick is to find the correct angle and pull back gently until you get the thick ribbons of zest. It is easy to miscalculate with a sharp peeler, so start with the lightest pressure or touch and just adjust upward if you are not getting sufficient zest each time.

If there is no grater or peeler, your last resort is going to be a sharp knife. Put the lime on the counter and peel it slowly until you get the zest out. Once the zest is removed, you can then cut the zest out in strips. The sharper your knife, the easier it will be to zest lime using a knife.

Can you use dried lime zest instead?

Assuming that you are challenged by zesting limes, you can, of course, shift to using commercially available dried lime zest. There are downsides to this, of course. The dried zest won’t look as good as a garnish on dishes and cocktails. However, since the zest is dried, it will pack more flavors when you use it in baking and cooking.

Lime Zest Uses

Lime zest is incredibly useful in the kitchen. It can be used in adding acidity to pastries and bread, adding flavor to different kinds of cocktails, and yes, it is just perfect for garnishing.

Lime zest is also a well-respected ingredient in different world cuisines, from Thai cuisine to Vietnamese specialties.

Using lime zest is also healthy because it contains plenty of essential nutrients from the fruit itself. We may not always use limes in our cooking, but adding lime zest is almost always possible because it lends well to different recipes.

The use of lime zest may provide the following health benefits to boot:

  • May help reduce the onset of oral infections from bacteria. Lime zest contains natural substances that fight bacteria and prevent them from multiplying inside the mouth.
  • The outer layer of lime skin is naturally packed with antioxidants and other nutrients that help prevent cellular aging. Premature aging occurs when free radicals (byproducts of cellular metabolism) are not removed from the body. The accumulation of free radicals has been linked with premature aging and diseases like cancer and metabolic syndrome.
  • Lime zest may also help control conditions like oral thrush and other fungal problems in the body.
  • Health-giving vitamin C in lime zest can help boost the immune system and respiratory system. Consume enough limes, and you can expect good skin, too.

Lime Zest Substitute

If you don’t have access to lime zest but would still like to introduce the necessary acidity to whatever recipe you are preparing, you may combine half a teaspoon of lemon extract and half a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice to your dish/cocktail. There won’t be any garnishing, of course, but you will get some of the flavors you are looking for.

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